SAS overspend warning


The DHA plans for 140 private lots at the village could bring civilians to within 300 metres of the SAS’s strategically sensitive Campbell Barracks.
The DHA plans for 140 private lots at the village could bring civilians to within 300 metres of the SAS’s strategically sensitive Campbell Barracks.

“Again, to be helpful without going into too much information that may be commercially sensitive if a particular option is chosen, we pursue it and we go to tender processes, it is more,” DHA acting managing director Jan Mason told Senator Alex Gallacher at a Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee hearing in Canberra on February 10.

DHA proposes to flatten the 22ha village for 140 private lots of 250sq m on the coastal site’s southern side, bringing civilians within 300m of the SAS’s strategically sensitive Campbell Barracks.

The lots’ sale could finance 165 new, high-density soldiers’ houses between the civilian homes and the barracks. Community opposition to the proposal caused the Government to order its review by former Lieutenant-General Mark Evans, who asked DHA to re-cost the project in a falling real estate market.

At the hearing, DHA backed away from previous estimates that about $155 million from the lots’ sales could go towards total cost of about $180 million for the village’s redevelopment.

“We are hesitating because disclosure of the land valuation and that sort of information can impact on the Commonwealth’s financial position when we go tender or when we seek to sell the property,” Ms Mason said.

A former Department of Finance officer, Ms Mason has retained her DHA acting role past a three-month deadline for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to confirm her permanency or replacement at DHA, which has still not replaced two board members from last year.